Home based businesses provide genuine opportunities to make money online in 2012. Marketing or selling through an eCommerce store, online shopping cart, blog or website brings great opportunity, as you’ll see in my list of inspirational business successes later in the article.

Home based businesses and startups are far easier to establish now than just a few years ago. And now more than ever, entrepreneurial spirit and small business startups (from the home, garage, dorm room, etc) are needed to help boost the economy.

What you need for an online home based startup

Apart from what your business actually offers (i.e. expert advice, custom designed throw pillows, etc), you will need:

  1. Internet & office equipment
  2. Domain and web hosting
  3. Website (i.e. blog, eCommerce store)

Find everything you need with the following articles and resources for small business startups:

Once you’re setup, you’ll need to learn more about SEO, Internet marketing, social media in order to help promote your online business. But for now, let’s get on with our home based business ideas.

Top 10 list of the best home based business ideas, 2012

If you are looking to start up a home business then look no further than this top 10 list of the best ways to make money online, from home.

I hope you’ll find something to inspire you to startup today. There’s no time like the present (and don’t forget about me when you’re sipping pina-coladas off the deck of your yacht ;)

1. Specialist consulting

If you have experience or skills then one of the best ways to make money is by providing niche industry wisdom and expert advice. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in.

Start blogging about what you know. Offer to help people by providing knowledge. Answer questions other sites, blogs and forums.

Once people recognize you as an expert they will trust you, and you can start leveraging that trust to make money by offering services and consulting in your niche.

2. Boutique online store

Do you have a passion for designing cushions? Do you love making gourmet cupcakes? If there is something you love doing, then do it online.

Set up an eCommerce store. Blog about what you do. Make your content exciting and visual so that your passion transfers to visitors who just have to buy.

3. eLearning content

If there is a subject you are knowledgeable in, or know plenty of people who are knowledgeable about something, then use that to make money.

Set up a subscription based service to train people. Offer them courses, complete with exercises and marked online quizzes. Award them with certificates upon completion.

4. Specialty reviews

Do you love fine dining? How about wine tasting? Does staying in luxury hotels appeal to you?

Start up a blog and begin reviewing local products and services. Do a good job and local merchants and retailers will quickly catch on to the value of being reviewed by you. Leverage that demand to make money, as well as using ads and affiliate links to generate additional cash from readers.

5. Innovative local services

There are a million and one things that get in people’s way each day. If you have a smart idea about how to help, then set it up.

idea: If you have a pickup you could offer to pick up people’s old furtniture for free. It saves them time and money taking it to the dump. You can then resell it via your website.

idea: People hate queuing at local grocery stores after work. Why not let them pre-order from your website and have it waiting for them. They don’t have to pay for parking, fight with crowds or wait in queues. Well worth the small amount you charge for the service.

With limited resources, you’ll have to start local. But franchising to different towns and cities is a great option for growth later down the line.

6. Online real-time tutorials and lessons

Google+ offers incredible resources for video conferencing and online hangouts. Why not offer one hour lessons by video online? People can sign up on your website and access live tutorials and lesson, possibly followed by some Q and A for added interactivity.

You don’t have to charge much, and as the word spreads you could end up with thousands of students attending each lesson.

7. Niche blogging

Blogging is a great way to make a residual income. It’s definitely a medium term investment though, so it’s only viable if you are passionate about your niche topic.

Use social media, SEO and Internet marketing to build up traffic volumes, engage with readers and earn their trust. Make money from advertising and affiliate links.

8. Remote PA

If you’re planning on working from home full-time, then why not offer to help people who can’t find enough hours in the day to do everything they need.

Preferably offer services that you can perform online such as research, administration, writing, editing, and so on. Otherwise, focus on the local market… especially if you need to run errands.

The more you can work online, the more scope there is to hire low maintenance virtual office workers to expand your business.

9. Discounts & deals

Times are tough. People appreciate finding high quality services and products at low prices. Scour the web for the top deals and pass them on to your readers. Make sure you do it in an exciting, interesting and unique way – there is a lot of competition in this industry.

Alternatively, start local. Approach local merchants and retailers and get them to run specials which you promote. As you build up a following, the tables will turn and it will be merchants who approach you to write about their specials. Leverage that demand to make money.

10. IT

Do you know how to build mobile apps? How about games? Are you a guru in a forgotten programming language? Are you an incredible graphic designer?

Hardcore IT and technical skills are well suited to online home based business. All the coolest companies were started in garages, bedrooms or dorm rooms by IT nerds.

Use your website to show off your abilities. Convincing clients to take you on is difficult at first, but, providing you do a good job, referrals will keep new clients coming in.

Inspirational business successes

To inspire you to get started with your new home based business, I thought I would finish off with a few stories of how the Internet, a bit of determination and creativity, helped some people to achieve success.

If they can do it, so can you:

What other business ideas would you include on this list? Have you started a home based online business? Had any success? Share your hopes, fears, and experiences in the comments, or join the conversation on LinkedIn.

Read more:  8 Ways to Fund Your Startup